Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

An improved, low-cost, hydroponic system for growing Arabidopsis and other plant species under aseptic conditions

Fulgencio Alatorre-Cobos12, Carlos Calderón-Vázquez13, Enrique Ibarra-Laclette14, Lenin Yong-Villalobos1, Claudia-Anahí Pérez-Torres1, Araceli Oropeza-Aburto1, Alfonso Méndez-Bravo14, Sandra-Isabel González-Morales1, Dolores Gutiérrez-Alanís1, Alejandra Chacón-López15, Betsy-Anaid Peña-Ocaña1 and Luis Herrera-Estrella1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para la Biodiversidad (Langebio)/Unidad de Genómica Avanzada (UGA), Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados del IPN, 36500 Irapuato, Guanajuato, México

2 Current address: Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland

3 Current address: Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Centro Interdisciplinario de Investigación para el Desarrollo Integral Regional Unidad Sinaloa, 81101 Guasave, Sinaloa, México

4 Current address: Red de Estudios Moleculares Avanzados, Instituto de Ecología A.C. Carretera Antigua a Coatepec #351, Xalapa 91070, Veracruz, México

5 Current address: Instituto Tecnológico de Tepic, Laboratorio de Investigación Integral en Alimentos, División de Estudios de Posgrado, 63175 Tepic, Nayarit, México

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:69  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-69

Published: 21 March 2014



Hydroponics is a plant growth system that provides a more precise control of growth media composition. Several hydroponic systems have been reported for Arabidopsis and other model plants. The ease of system set up, cost of the growth system and flexibility to characterize and harvest plant material are features continually improved in new hydroponic system reported.


We developed a hydroponic culture system for Arabidopsis and other model plants. This low cost, proficient, and novel system is based on recyclable and sterilizable plastic containers, which are readily available from local suppliers. Our system allows a large-scale manipulation of seedlings. It adapts to different growing treatments and has an extended growth window until adult plants are established. The novel seed-holder also facilitates the transfer and harvest of seedlings. Here we report the use of our hydroponic system to analyze transcriptomic responses of Arabidopsis to nutriment availability and plant/pathogen interactions.


The efficiency and functionality of our proposed hydroponic system is demonstrated in nutrient deficiency and pathogenesis experiments. Hydroponically grown Arabidopsis seedlings under long-time inorganic phosphate (Pi) deficiency showed typical changes in root architecture and high expression of marker genes involved in signaling and Pi recycling. Genome-wide transcriptional analysis of gene expression of Arabidopsis roots depleted of Pi by short time periods indicates that genes related to general stress are up-regulated before those specific to Pi signaling and metabolism. Our hydroponic system also proved useful for conducting pathogenesis essays, revealing early transcriptional activation of pathogenesis-related genes.

Hydroponics; Arabidopsis; Root; Phosphate starvation; Pathogenesis